I can never pass up the opportunity for a good view – and in my travels, I’ve been known to go to pretty great lengths to capture one!
If my 89-year-old mum is journeying with me (as regular readers know Mummy often is), she’s always game to go along for an extra ride – quite literally since she often rides these days in her transport chair!
Here we are at one of our favorite destinations – Ragged Point at the southern edge of the cliffy Big Sur stretch of the California coast! I had to maneuver Mum’s transport chair down a gritty gravel path so we could make the most of amazing views from right off the edge of the continent – but it was totally worth it!
The downhill part posed no problem at all. But getting back up a path that turned out not just to be gritty, but also steep in spots and almost devoid of traction? Well, when I got the bright idea to take this little detour, I kinda hadn’t taken those elements into consideration.
This wasn’t my first transport chairing misjudgment – and it wouldn’t be my last…
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been having travel adventures with Mummy! Everything from loading up our beloved Travelall for camping trips with Dad and the boys, to packing trunks for a year-long stay in Australia!
It’s a family tradition Mum and I have happily continued – we’ve just made a few mobility adjustments along the way!
Like a few years ago when we road-tripped to Ashland, Oregon, while Mum was mainly using a walker. She, Dad and I had been annual visitors there for decades to catch the Oregon Shakespeare Festival – so it would be a nostalgic stroll for us down Memory Lane!
But speaking of lanes, it also turned out to be a lesson in situational awareness.
At our favorite hotel, Mum and I got to the breakfast room early enough to have a great choice of seating! We easily moved among empty tables with Mum’s walker to a prime pair of seats by the far window where we enjoyed a morning meal as we had so many times before!
When it was time to head out, I glanced around for the best lane back through the now bustling room – and I realized my mistake. Most of the previously empty chairs that had been pushed up against tables were now occupied and jutting out, effectively narrowing every aisle in the room.
My choice of a table with a view had gotten us trapped…
Thankfully though, we were surrounded by gracious fellow Bard fans who pleasantly set aside their scones and such to do whatever standing or scooching was necessary for Mum and me to sneak past. And I duly noted the fact that a room may start out spacious when empty – but friends, Romans and countryman can really tighten it fast!
There were new skills to master once Mum and I started using the transport chair – skills that might be no-brainers to some, but not necessarily to me.
Mum does walk –
But lately when we don’t know what kind of distances or terrains lie ahead, we opt for her chair. And through trial and error, I’ve figured out solid transport chairing strategies such as rolling forward through doors that open toward us and backward through ones that open away. Other lessons (from the error column…) include the fact that walls and door frames don’t give – so, you know, it’s preferable not to bump or squoosh a loved one’s toes up against them. And I do think any and all lousy critters that dig holes in park lawns should be rounded up and – and – politely requested to knock it the heck off for safety and convenience as well as for the love of Pete.
I’ve also discovered that negotiating uneven ground of any height at all can end up requiring special measures. Surprisingly (again, maybe just to me), small thresholds into buildings and slightly uneven sidewalks outside can wind up being obstacles. The solution though is simply stepping on a lever by the chair’s back wheels that helps one “pop a wheelie” over the impediment. Anticipating when a wheelie will be required before biffing into it, however, is a skill I still haven’t mastered quite yet.
One technique I don’t recommend is getting up a head of steam on approach to a height obstacle. I learned this when Mum and I went to an NHL Allstar event where our dear friend Dee had arranged for a photo session with the Stanley Cup!
All that stood between us and the grandest trophy in all of sport was a curved ramp with mayyybe an inch of height difference at its base. Figuring it would be easier to conquer the rise with a bit of momentum, I started us a few feet back, got up some speed and hit the ramp at a pretty fair clip.
Contrary to plan, that little height variance stopped our front wheels and completely checked our momentum. I’m talking Rob Blake hip-checked it. The abrupt stop nearly catapulted dearest Mum right out of her Chicago Blackhawk socks and onto the floor…
Mortifying – but lesson learned. Best to take things slow and easy while transport chairing – even if it is The Cup!
Despite my displays of transport chairing ineptitude, it’s proved priceless to have so many wondrous experiences remain within our reach! Like I love being able to share with Mum one of my favorite trails along the coast!
I love getting Mum out (and up!) for spectacular views!
And through these various outings with our transport chair, it’s been a delight to discover too just how many lovely people there are in the world!
People who hold open doors. Who move their chairs to make just that little bit more room. People who even keep their driveway clear and a steadying arm at the ready when hosting a party they know Mum and I plan to attend!
Among these people, by the way, is one generous and gentlemanly soul from Ottumwa, Iowa, who pushed Mum back up that gritty and tractionless path at Ragged Point! Honestly, I think I could have managed it – I just think I’d still be there at it now…
It’s all proof that at any stage, where there’s a will – and here and there a kind and helping hand – there’s a way to keep getting out and enjoying life to the full!
Cheers from Mum and me! And where it applies – happy transport chairing!